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Owen Keegan 'should apologise, but not resign' over accommodation comments - Junior Minister

A junior minister says comments by the Dublin City Council CEO around student accommodation were ...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.45 12 Oct 2021


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Owen Keegan 'should apologise,...

Owen Keegan 'should apologise, but not resign' over accommodation comments - Junior Minister

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.45 12 Oct 2021


Share this article


A junior minister says comments by the Dublin City Council CEO around student accommodation were 'flippant', but he should not resign.

It comes as a students' union president has called for Owen Keegan to step down, for suggesting that students should get into the housing market themselves.

Mr Keegan made the remark in a letter to UCD Students' Union President Ruairí Power - after he complained about the council allowing a student accommodation provider to convert some units into short-term lets.

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Higher Education Minister Simon Harris criticised Mr Keegan for his "dismissive and sarcastic comments."

He said he fully agrees with UCDSU that student accommodation should be for students.

While Niall Collins - Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education - says Mr Keegan should apologise.

Dublin City Council CEO Owen Keegan speaking in Newstalk studios in Dublin Dublin City Council CEO Owen Keegan speaking in Newstalk studios in Dublin. Picture by: Newstalk

But he told Newstalk Breakfast this is not a resigning issue.

"No I don't think it's a resigning matter, but I do think his comments were very flippant and dismissive of the students and the the students' union.

"Obviously there's an exchange of views going on here by way of correspondence, and the students rightly want to highlight the issue in relation to student accommodation.

"It stems from a decision, recently, by Dublin City Council to grant a change of use to a number of units of student accommodation - a temporary change of use - and that has obviously had the impact of taking student accommodation units out of the market and beyond the reach of students.

"I think the tone is disrespectful and I do think Owen Keegan should apologise.

"I think it would be no harm if Owen Keegan met with the students' union and thrashed it out face to face.

"But certainly it's not a resigning matter".

And Mr Collins says the temporary change of use for student accommodation should not have happened.

"The decision by Dublin City Council to grant a temporary change of use was wrong, it was against the Government's accommodation strategy.

"And since that has happened, we've issued a circular - a directive - to each local authority in relation to the provision of purpose-built student accommodation.

"What we're saying is under no circumstances is a change of use to be granted, unless it can be specifically demonstrated by the applicant that there isn't a need for student accommodation in the particular area.

"And I don't think that can be demonstrated by any applicant in the current environment".

Main image: Junior Minister Niall Collins speaking to the media at Leinster House in February 2020. Picture by: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

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Dismissive Dublin City Council Dublin City Council CEO Newstalk Breakfast Owen Keegan Ruairí Power Simon Harris Student Accommodation UCD Students' Union

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